The Home of Racing in Sydney

On Monday 7th February 2011, the Australian Jockey Club (AJC) and the Sydney Turf Club (STC) merged under the new name of the Australian Turf Club (ATC).

Over the years the AJC has hosted Royal Visits, recruiting parties during the world wars, Popes, concerts and of course many fantastic days of racing with famous horses, jockeys and trainers making names for themselves at the track.

The AJC was known as the Principal Club. The work they did established racing into the sport it is today. They created rules and regulations for all aspects of a race day and for the industry itself. They encouraged registration of people and horses to ensure fair and true contests at the track. As a principal employer in the areas around its racecourses, the AJC was an active participant in improving thoroughbred racing.

Randwick Racecourse was used by the AJC from 1861. Warwick Farm was a later addition in 1923 though racing began at the course in 1889.

The STC was born following the passing of the Sydney Turf Club Act by the NSW Parliament on 10 August 1943. This Act marked a dividing line in Sydney’s racing history… the transformation of Sydney racing from a loose collection of private Racing Clubs and the AJC to a structure of two independently controlled non-proprietary clubs each with its own two racecourses. The first meeting of the emergent STC was actually held at Randwick on 15th January 1945, and drew a great response from the racing fraternity. Despite its war time setting it drew a crowd of 36,000, many of them in uniform, who came to see a historic day of racing. The principal race on the program was the Lord Mayor’s Cup won by Flight, owned by Brian Crowley, a champion mare who was destined to go on to become one of the heroic horses of post war racing.

With a mandate to take over the proprietary racecourses in the metropolitan area, the STC took its time choosing the racecourses it would focus on. Eventually they settled on Rosehill Gardens and Canterbury Park. Rosehill Gardens had first been used as a racecourse in 1885 and at Canterbury Park racing began in 1871. Proprietary clubs operated these two courses until the STC was created.

As the years progressed, various racecourse innovations appeared first at STC tracks. These included electric mobile starting barriers, photo finish cameras and telephone betting. Other moments of note include Phar Lap’s first start at Rosehill, Canterbury as the host of night racing, the creation of the Golden Slipper which has provided many great racing moments and the introduction of a rails system for bookmakers at Canterbury.

About the ATC Heritage Office

The history of both these clubs and now the ATC is maintained by the ATC Heritage Office. A vast collection of racing memorabilia accumulated over the years through donations and fastidious recordkeeping is now maintained as the ATC Heritage Collection for future generations. It is available to researchers and anyone with an interest in racing or local history. The stories of the Club’s are celebrated and the people involved in racing history have their actions preserved for posterity.

Based at Randwick Racecourse the Heritage Office has two permanent staff and an enthusiastic group of volunteers. The Heritage Staff ensure the collection is described, interpreted, displayed and conserved so that the history of thoroughbred horse racing in NSW lives on.

View All
Subscribe To Our Newsletter